UNIPSIL Human Rights Section - Training On Treaty Reporting

1 Nov 2011

UNIPSIL Human Rights Section - Training On Treaty Reporting

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation, in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice and with technical support from UNIPSIL, organized a two days training workshop in human rights treaty reporting for ministerial focal persons on 10th and 11th October 2011. A total of 39 persons from Ministries, departments and agencies attended. 7 representatives of Human Rights NGOs and independent institutions also participated in the training.

The main objective of the training was to build a common understanding among participants of international human rights treaties, their monitoring bodies and the need to report regularly to those international mechanisms. Specific objectives included equipping the focal persons with the knowledge on the contents of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CAT) and agreeing on the next steps for information gathering and drafting towards the production of these two reports.

Present at the opening ceremony was the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Hon. Franklyn Bai Kargbo. In his opening statement, the AG stressed the need to promptly reduce the number of reports in arrears as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and recently reiterated during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). He also emphasized the commitment that the Government of Sierra Leone has made to implement the UPR recommendations. Ms Beatriz Balbin, head of UNIPSIL Human Right section, emphasized the importance that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights puts in treaty reporting, stressing that treaty reporting has proved instrumental in contributing to States' actual implementation of international human rights standards.

Thanks to the presence of focal persons from almost all relevant government agencies and administrative bodies and to their active participation in the sessions, the workshop successfully set the basis for collaboration and synergy between Ministries, departments and agencies in complying with treaty reporting obligations. Participants developed essential knowledge on the contents of the ICCPR and CAT, rationale, procedures, and information gathering techniques for treaty reporting as well as on their own role in the framework of the Sierra Leone's reporting strategy. Through group work, focal persons also produced partial framework for the draft state reports under the ICCPR and CAT which should provide guidance to the drafting team in compiling the reports.

The Sierra Leone's reporting strategy (2009) foresees the appointment of ministerial focal persons to be part of working groups established on ad hoc basis for the purpose of producing specific reports. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) was designated as the lead agency, responsible to coordinate the overall implementation of the national reporting strategy. In the framework of implementation of the UPR recommendations, the Government of Sierra Leone has revived the strategy and has accorded priority to reporting under ICCPR and CAT under the lead of the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice. Sierra Leone has signed and ratified most of the main international human rights conventions and accepted the reporting obligations contained therein. However, the response in terms of regular reporting has been inadequate and a total of 25 reports are currently overdue.